It’s that time of year when head coaching jobs open up and fans bristle when they hear their favorite assistant coaches’ names thrown around. After the first year of Brian Kelly and a 7-5 record, Notre Dame fans likely never thought they’d hear one of their assistants names being singled out… yet.
But Rivals.com’s Tom Dienhart just mentioned Irish secondary coach and recruiting coordinator Chuck Martin as one of the top targets of Northern Illinois as they look to replace head coach Jerry Kill, who just left to take the head coaching job at Minnesota.
Dienhart’s list include Martin, Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, and Rutgers’ wide receivers coach, and former Northern Illinois wide receiver, P.J. Fleck as the leading candidates.
Considering Doeren’s pedigree and Midwestern background, he’s a likely candidate at a MAC school looking to give a top-notch coordinator a head coaching job. Fleck’s young and relatively inexperienced, but his record-setting days on the gridiron for the Huskies, as well as being a home-grown product, make him a logical fit to fill the vacancy as well.
But Martin’s name appearing after just a season as a position coach at Notre Dame goes to show you just how good of a hire he was for Kelly and the Irish. While Bob Diaco was given the reins of the defense as its coordinator, Martin’s work with the secondary has been impossible not to notice and his work on the recruiting trail has kept the Irish in the upper-echelon of programs when it comes to recruiting rankings, a perceived weakness when Kelly and his staff were originally hired.
Martin’s head coaching experience at Grand Valley State, where he went 74-7 (a whopping .914 winning percentage) and won two national championships will likely be a great sales tool when perspective employers look to fill an opening. Martin’s Chicagoland roots also play well into Northern Illinois’ search.
Part of me would be surprised if Martin said yes to the job, especially after getting a feel for his love of Notre Dame and where he’ll likely end up a few years down the line. (I think he’ll be a head coach one day soon, but at a spot better than Northern Illinois.) Still, Kelly could be looking at the first defection from his coaching staff, and a loss that’d be a real blow to a group of talented assistants.